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Interviewing Candidates is Beyond the Authority of the Board

By on April 1, 2016 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

Many boards of education have personnel committees in which one or two board members, in a limited capacity, participate in the committee. May a board member be involved in the interview process of a candidate seeking employment with the board? The New Jersey School Ethics Commission (“Commission”) advises no.

In Advisory Opinion A31-15 issued on January 26, 2016, the Commission determined that a board member would likely violate the New Jersey School Ethics Act (“Act”) if he involved himself in the interview process of potential candidates. The specific provisions of the Act which would be violated are N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (d):

c. I will confine my board action to policy making, planning, and appraisal, and I will help to frame policies and plans only after the board has consulted those who will be affected by them.

d. I will carry out my responsibility, not to administer the schools, but, together with my fellow board members, to see that they are well run.

The Commission emphasized that final recommendations for personnel hires are “wholly within the purview of the Superintendent.” In its analysis, the Commission highlighted its decisions in Advisory Opinion A15-10 and A01-12, which stated that a board member may not participate in exit interviews and his role in serving on a personnel committee is strictly limited to offering observations and assessments.  The Commission also pointed to N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(h), which states that a board member’s role is to vote for the best qualified candidate after consideration of the recommendation of the Superintendent.

As such, board members, even when serving on a personnel committee, should be cognizant of whether their actions interfere with or limit the Superintendent’s role.


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About the Author

About the Author:

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. concentrates her practice on the representation of boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline, FERPA, Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, student residency, civil rights, tenure, OPRA, and OPMA. In connection with these representations, she is experienced in handling matters before State and Federal courts, including the Office of Administrative Law. Ms. Dev is an experienced special education litigator and defends school districts in due process hearings from inception through trial. In addition, she has handled matters before governmental agencies, including the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. Ms. Dev routinely conducts training and seminars, drafts policies and manuals, and provides strategic advice to school administrators regarding school law issues. Ms. Dev was recently recognized as one of South Jersey’s Awesome Attorneys as published by South Jersey Magazine. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, the District Court for the District of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


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